EVERY year, my family and I go to a local greenhouse on the first weekend before spring. It started a long time ago and has kind of become a celebration of surviving a “midwest winter.” (It tends to drag on and on, teasing you every once in a while with a warm day, only to divert back to freezing rain the next.) So we go, and each year as our family grows we take in all of the things that mean spring. The bright colors, the smell of dirt, all of the opportunities of our soon-to-fail square foot garden. It’s kind of become a celebration.
This year, I thought it would be fun to write a little post on this sweet family tradition. This will be great. I figured all the kids were off school, I’ll bring my camera, snap a few pictures…perfect!
Well, in short, that was optimistic. The reality I found myself in was actually more something along the lines of this: an hour drive of arguing and whining and ‘are we there yets”, followed by bad attitudes from not eating breakfasts and us all still trying to make it through daylight savings. There was rain, lots of rain. My children running: on tables, down aisles, over to fountains, into breakables and away from me. And the worst part: me and my big fat need to get the best pictures for a post.
My dumb attitude was the worst part. As much as I wished it wasn’t about getting the perfect picture, that is exactly what that outing soon became all about. I snapped at my sister, at my kids, at my mom. All because of the pressure I was putting on myself to get that great shot. To look cute, but not stupid. To pose my uncooperative kids, to get the right lighting and to make sure I was sucking in.
I don’t know if you guys have ever felt this. I tend to be a perfectionist and when everything out there already seems to be perfect and I am such a hot mess (even when I try so hard not to be) the pressure is too much. Who am I trying to be anyways? It’s just a dang picture. But I think it’s more than that. I think it’s the scary part of trying to put myself out there more. Anytime you share yourself, in any way, it’s vulnerable. And though I wish I was cool enough to rise above it, I fall hard into the struggle to be perfect trap.
And you guys, in my chase for perfection, for the best photos, I missed the moment. I missed my kids having a great time, smiling. My cutest little nephew who I do NOT get to see near enough and who is running now. I missed time with my mom. Asking her about her work, their upcoming trip and her concern for a dear friend who’s husband was sick. I missed my sister, who I treasure time with, and asking her about her growing business, and how mom life feels and what she’s looking forward to. I missed Everett recognizing some of the plants and planning out what herbs we’re going to plant this year. I missed Courtland’s dimple grin and the sheer happiness to be with the whole family. I missed Isla’s first time really experiencing the flowers and how every single aisle was an opportunity to explore.
On the ride home we stopped at a drive-thru for coffee and as we were paying, my oldest son shouted through the window at the barista. “I love your voice!” So I rolled down my window so he could tell her again. Interpreting for him I said “my son thinks you sound like a nice person.” She smiled so big and through the suckers she gave them, I could tell it meant a lot to her.
I kept thinking of that. “I like your voice!” I think I am learning. When I am just me, when I am “my voice” and not trying to be any one else’s, or trying to say/be what I think people want or trying to look how I think I should look, or be someone I think I should be, I am way more free.”
When Racheal and I decided to blog more this year, it was because of a pull we both feel to just be ourselves in hopes of encouraging others to do the same. We want to be human, along with other humans. There is a lot out there telling us how to be someone else, but that’s not why we are each made so different and diverse. Its nice to see someone just be themselves, don’t you think? When I see someone else being “human” I feel like I get them. I feel like “I can do that too.” We should be inspired and encouraged by other’s honesty and vulnerability because it creates a real connection. No one is perfect, no matter how hard they try, so I’m gonna work on not trying.